24 HOURS (or so) IN EMERGENCY

I’ve had another ’flight’ in the night – an ear infection went on a rampage, fending off antibiotics prescribed by my local doctor. So after ten days and some painful, sleepness nights I have embarked on more unexpected night travel – this time to the hospital in a nearby town (see my earlier ’flight’ story on evacuating this month from an approaching bushfire – FLIGHT January 13).

The joys of hospital stays. The plus side is that this small regional hospital is fairly new – so it’s fresh, modern and clean. And I’ve never stayed here before. A new travel destination when Covid has rudely impinged on my travel adventures.

The nurses and doctors are excellent, though understaffed and overrun with work. They worry about what will happen when Covid finally hits Western Australia big time. It has already reached this town – a hot spot was named yesterday at a nearbye chemist. We are still tracking and tracing close and casual contacts in WA.

I expected my visit to Emergency to be brief – but my situation is serious and I’ve been kept overnight in a big ward. The nurses call it ’the pit’. I think because six beds are lined up like starters in a Grand Prix .. zoom zoom!
When I went to sleep last night, I was the only one in ‘the Pit’. Staff asked me to go private, so that might be a qualifying factor to get into the Pit line-up. There is a nurses station desk, but not staffed. They visit from a neighbouring ward.

I spot a big supply of loo paper on a shelf near my bed. Covid hoarding? My brother has messaged me not to touch it – I’m probably on CC-TV!

There are seven intravenous stands parked opposite me. I wonder if they will turn into Dr Who daleks overnight and wander around the ward. “Exterminate, exterminate” (any signs of Covid peeping in..not me, I hope)!

Some of my Dalek army

There is a unisex toilet/shower room for ’the Pit’ that seems a bit like a storeroom, but I’m assured I can use it. So far I have gingerly cleared storage trays off the sink to wash my hands. I will need to move the line-up of chairs, bins and walkers to use the shower.

I’m not a fan of unisex in hospitals. About 3 o’clock this morning, I discovered that another patient has joined me in ’the Pit’. With five other beds to choose from, he or she has been placed next to mine, barely meeting social distancing rules. Is the patient a he or a she? No idea. It’s still dark as I write this, with just a bevy of red and green lights twinkling like little alien eyes around the room. We are alone in ‘the Pit’ and the doors are closed. I hope the CC-TV is working. The perils of travel and pit stops!

My hospital dinner last night was Chef’s Choice! I can’t describe it. I didn’t have the heart to photograph it. Honestly, words fail me. It did meet the ‘soft foods’ criteria as chewing for me is currently difficult. Full marks for that. My ear infection has taken up travel too, spreading to a nearbye bone.

I have my ipad with me and check my Facebook. A friend posts up photos of a gourmet meal she enjoyed this week. Torture!

Masks. I’ve been in one since arriving at the hospital around 5.30 yesterday morning. It’s a bit of a Hannibal Lector look. However, I hung it around my neck last night to sleep because until 3am, I thought I was home alone in ’the Pit’ and far from the madding crowd in the main Emergency ward.

Now, with mystery unisex patient next to me, I suppose I should put it back on. No makeup and my Hannibal lector look should be a good repellant if said patient starts sleep walking and encroaches on my 1.5 metre social distance space! I have my ’nurse, run here quickly’ buzzer close to me.

Besides, apparently I’m looking seriously ancient and frail. A nurse quizzed me yesterday on whether I have carers in my home, did I have many falls, and could I feed myself? Hello, I’m here for an ear infection! And I haven’t reached the traveller’s nightmare – the 70’s when travel insurers buck the trend of seniors concessions and ramp up travel insurance to heart stopping rates!

I heard myself hastily and inexplicably declare I could still walk 20 kilometres in a day! I had gone into defensive mode. A silly reply when I think of it. Should I have added ‘lugging cameras, a day backpack and without a fall or carer in sight’? This ‘old’ traveller is still travelling on, thank you very much.

I resigned myself to a night of interruptions with regular intravenous feeds of meds, banks of overhead lights and incredibly hot air conditioning tricking me into thinking I’m just having a series of afternoon naps on a tropical island beach. 🌞 This is reinforced by the bottle of body wash called Ocean Breeze, provided by the hospital in the unisex shower.

My brother messages again. Will this hospital stay rate as another travel blog. It surely involves a travel bag? Yes, it does. I didn’t bring a travel bag because I didn’t expect to stay. So my knight in shining armour – hubby – returned home to pack one for me. It’s a bit of a surprise package. No nightie. Obviously he thought I liked the paper like midnight blue hospital gown I am precariously wrapped in, fashionably matching the ward curtains around my bed.

My hair dryer is there, but no shampoo. Luckily, in my small toilet bag he has brought, there is a weeny tube of Laura Ashley shampoo I got from a hotel in Kyoto. Unused. Amazing. It has lurked there for three years!

There is also the book I’m currently reading – the very wonderful ’The only Gaijin in the village – a year of living in rural Japan’ by the witty and wonderful Scottish writer, Iain Maloney. A good book is an essential companion on any travel adventure, and besides, I have something to take my mind off the mysterious unisex body lying close to me!

Just before first light, I decide to try the Unisex shower. I am an old travel hand at accessing shared bathrooms before everyone else, while it is still clean and shining. I lock myself in for privacy. I’m sure this is against patient rules. I don’t care.

I note the tap has blue and yellow indicators. Blue for freezing. Yellow, it turns out, for not so freezing! No sign of red for hot, or even a nice warm pink. Obviously, the hospital doesn’t want patients to burn themselves. Transforming into a polar pear that can endure icy conditions is ok. Again, my intrepid past travelling adventures stands me in good stead, having survived many a cold shower in remote places on my travels.

I give my hair a chilly wash, and then realise that for patient safety there is no power point for my blow dryer. My natural uncontrolled curl will kick in, wildly relishing freedom from the dryer that straightens it out every day. It is not a good look. I can’t use the power point by my bed either as the ’unisex’ body next to my bed is still sleeping. I try to ’hand dry’ my hair, forcing some sort of rhyme and reason to my ’style’. Hubby hasn’t included a mirror in my travel bag, so I improvise by turning on ipad camera and reversing it so that I can see myself. Works!

Breakfast arrives. Chef’s choice again. This establishment seems to have no menus. It passes muster. No bacon and eggs or sour dough tosst. But there is hot porridge, my favourite breakfast food. No honey though, so for the first time in a few decades I sprinkle sugar over it. There is a brown chewy bread roll. After a small bite, I decide I don’t need more carbs.

Hubby will rescue me later this morning to take me onto my ongoing journey to a specialist at another hospital an hour’s journey north of here. My overnight stay has seen my ear infection slowly arrested, so I’m on the mend.

Oh, by the way, my neighbouring Pit stop patient has woken up and turns out to be a nice harmless young woman. Just as well! I was thinking of harnessing my army of Dalek intravenous stands and arming them with toilet rolls in case I needed them.

.😎 I love an unpredictable life.

2 comments

  1. Wow! That does sound like an adventure! I hope that, by now, your ear infection is completely gone and that your next trip will be one that you planned (and one that doesn’t come with any more mystery meals).

    Like

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